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'Gold Rush' Tony Beets Takes On 10,000-Year-Old Alaskan Permafrost During Dig!

Discovery Channel
By Gary Trock

"Gold Rush" star Tony Beets has got some prehistoric problems on his hands because his gold mining crew ran into a roadblock that dates all the way back to the Ice Age! In an exclusive clip of this week's episode of the Discovery reality series, the Beets crew is cooking on a dig when machine operator Kevin suddenly hits some tough ground. After taking a closer look, he realizes they've dug into some hardcore frost. Kevin immediately shuts down and gives Tony Beets a call to inform him of the bad news.

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Permafrost is made up of soil, rocks and frozen water, and occurs when the depth of the winter freezing is too deep to get thawed out in the summer.

According to the Alaska Public Lands Information Center:

"Much of the permafrost in Alaska is tens of thousands of years old. In arctic and interior Alaska, river erosion and gold mining have revealed the remains of now-extinct animals from the last great ice age 100,000 to 10,000 years ago, when animals such as woolly mammoths, mastodons, lions, and saber-toothed cats roamed what is now Alaska. Pingos and ice wedges are demonstrations of how permafrost has changed the landscape.

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"That's definitely not something we need right now," Beets tells his crew. The guys hatch a plan to dig a few test holes around the mine site and see if the rest of the ground is frozen solid. If the permafrost is found throughout the site, it will basically mean they have to shut it down because there's no way to dig through it and they don't have the time or money to sit around and let it thaw out.

Help from Parker?

Discovery Channel

Perhaps Beets can enlist the help of his friend and nearby gold mining co-star Parker Schnabel. Schnabel has a new piece of machinery that may have the power Beets needs to break through the frigid ground.

During a recent episode of "Gold Rush," Parker's crew was treated to the gigantic excavator he purchased to help move dirt like never before. The Volvo Excavator boasts over 500 horsepower and can hold up to 8.5 tons of dirt. It also weighs as much as a T-Rex.

The Gold Totals

Giphy | Discovery

It's been a rocky season for the main three stars on "Gold Rush," and the gap between their total hauls is beginning to widen. Rick Ness came in dead last for the week with 0 oz of gold mined, and it's clear his gamble on the season is beginning to look like a bust. Tony Beets, despite all his roadblocks, hit a considerable good payday and hauled in over 265 oz of gold.

However, once again, Parker Schnabel comes out on top with over 300 oz of gold mined for the week. That also puts Schnabel well above his co-stars for the season with over 1,300 oz of unearthed gold. It's probably a good thing Schnabel has been able to get his hands on so much gold, as his time is running out with the Alaskan water contracts expiring at the end of the year.

New episodes of "Gold Rush" air Fridays at 9 PM on Discovery.

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